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Today’s post continues our wine tasting notes: the vocabulary of smelling the wine.
Today is Sunday, August 26
This is my 138th consecutive daily posting.
Time is 12.26am and the weather is glorious.
Today’s dinner is…a meatball sandwich on good crusty Italian bread,
Photo of the Day
Vermeer was about 27 when he painted The Glass of Wine, and according to the critic Walter Liedtke, "No analysis of artistic conventions can suggest the sheer beauty and extraordinary refinement of a painting like The Glass of Wine, which may be considered one of Vermeer's first fully mature works".
The concept of figures drinking around a table, and the portrayal of a woman drinking from a glass are taken directly from De Hooch's A Dutch Courtyard.
However, Vermeer's work breaks away from the prototypes of De Hooch in that the interior is rendered in a far more elegant and higher-class setting than the older master's works.
The clothes of the figures, the patterned tablecloth, the gilded picture frame hanging on the back wall, and the coat of arms in the stained window glass all suggest a wealthier setting.
The scene likely represents some type of courtship, but the roles being played by the two figures are not clear.
The woman has just drained the glass of wine and the man seems impatient to pour her more, almost as if he is trying to get her drunk.
A musical instrument, the cittern, lies on the chair with musical notebooks.
But the figure of Temperance is depicted in the stained glass window, adding to the tension in the scene.
Compared to his earlier paintings, Vermeer's brushwork in The Wine Glass is subdued, while the faces and clothes of the figures are depicted with wide smooth outlines.
Only in the tapestry of the tablecloth and the window glass did the artist apply finely detailed, linear brush strokes.
At the time Vermeer was not the only Dutch artist attempting to develop the ideas of De Hooch; contemporary paintings from Jan Steen, Gerard Ter Borch, and Frans van Mieris the Elder also display a refined technique.
The painting shares elements with other Vermeer works. The Girl with the Wine Glass (1659–1660) portrays two men, but in common with The Wine Glass it has a woman seated at a table with a glass of wine, and the tiled floors and stained-glass windows in both are very similar.
The same wine pitcher appears in an earlier Vermeer, A Girl Asleep (1657).
The Wine Glass is a transitional work, and as such, is not commonly viewed as one of Vermeer's finest. According to art critic Lawrence Gowing, comparing the work with Gabriel Metsu's The Duet, it "lacks the sociable fluency, the ingratiating inventiveness".
What is carbonic maceration?
Find the answer just before today’s Post below.
Give yourself partial credits for partial answers.
Maynard Amerine (1911–1998) was a pioneering researcher in the cultivation, fermentation, and sensory evaluation of wine.
His academic work at the University of California at Davis is recognized internationally.
His 16 books and some 400 articles contributed significantly to the development of the modern (post-Prohibition) wine industry in California; to the improvement of wine cultures in Europe, South America, and Australia; and to the professional standards for judging and tasting wine.
In the early 1940s, he and his colleague Albert J. Winkler developed the Winkler scale, a technique for classifying wine growing regions based on temperatures, that continues to be used in the United States and elsewhere.
His research, organizational, and advisory efforts in wine tasting helped bring about a more objective vocabulary to that field, based on flavors and scents rather than allusive references.
Maynard Andrew Amerine was born in 1911 in San Jose, California, the child of Roy Reagan Amerine and Tennessee Davis Amerine.
He grew up on their farm in Modesto, California.
In 1935, while still completing his Ph.D. in plant physiology at the University of California at Berkeley, he became the first faculty member hired into the new Viticulture and Enology Department at the University of California at Davis.
He became full professor in 1952, was deemed All-University Lecturer in 1962, and continued his research and teaching at Davis until his retirement in 1974. He remained Professor Emeritus, served as an advisor at the Wine Institute in San Francisco, and continued to write, travel, and advise on wine production and evaluation nearly until his death in 1998.
Amerine was featured on an episode of "To Tell the Truth" on the CBS television network in the 1960s accompanied by two impostors.
Host Bud Collyer read a description of Amerine's work at UC Davis noting that his tasting class was "closed to undergraduates."
Amerine sat in the middle seat (No. 2). The panel for the show: Tom Poston, Kitty Carlisle, Don Ameche, Polly Bergen.
(Bergen asked No. 3: "Where is the University of California, besides being in California?"
No. 3 answered that the branch where he taught was in Davis, CA; Bergen seemed extremely dubious about this answer [i.e., not familiar with the fact that UC has a Davis campus, perhaps expecting "Berkeley" or "Los Angeles"].)
None of the panelists chose the real Amerine; three votes went to No. 1 and one to No. 3.
The first named professorship at the University of California was endowed in Amerine's honor, as the Maynard Amerine Chair, by Ernest Gallo (an early classmate of Amerine's).
In 1991, the Maynard A. Amerine Room and Wine Collection in Shields Library was named in his honor and to house his extensive collection of books, a product of his years as a wine bibliographer and collector.
His wine of choice was California zinfandel, according to his New York Times obituary.
Thank you, Wikipedia
Casablanca” is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison's unproduced stage play “Everybody Comes to Rick's.”
The film stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid; it also features Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Dooley Wilson.
Set during contemporary World War II, it focuses on an American expatriate who must choose between his love for a woman and helping her and her husband, a Czech Resistance leader, escape from the Vichy-controlled city of Casablanca to continue his fight against the Nazis.
Warner Bros. story editor Irene Diamond convinced producer Hal B. Wallis to purchase the film rights to the play in January 1942. Brothers Julius and Philip G. Epstein were initially assigned to write the script. However, despite studio resistance, they left to work on Frank Capra's “Why We Fight” series early in 1942.
Howard E. Koch was assigned to the screenplay until the Epsteins returned a month later.
Principal photography began on May 25, 1942, ending on August 3; the film was shot entirely at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California with the exception of one sequence at Van Nuys Airport in Van Nuys, Los Angeles.
Although Casablanca was an A-list film with established stars and first-rate writers, no one involved with its production expected it to be anything other than one of the hundreds of ordinary pictures produced by Hollywood that year.
“Casablanca” was rushed into release to take advantage of the publicity from the Allied invasion of North Africa a few weeks earlier.
It had its world premiere on November 26, 1942, in New York City and was released nationally in the United States on January 23, 1943.
The film was a solid if unspectacular success in its initial run.
Exceeding expectations, “Casablanca” went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, while Curtiz was selected as Best Director and the Epsteins and Koch were honored for writing the Best Adapted Screenplay – and gradually its reputation grew.
Its lead characters, memorable lines, and pervasive theme song have all become iconic, and the film consistently ranks near the top of lists of the greatest films in history.
Thank you, Wikipedia
Word of the Day
A fine wine separates itself from vins ordinaires by having at least a modicum of one or more aspects of complexity, depth, balance, typicity, bouquet, glass development, gestalt, or other attributes that make drinking it an adventure and a gauge of civilization.
Answer for Encyclopediacs
Carbonic maceration is a winemaking technique, often associated with the French wine region of Beaujolais, in which whole grapes are fermented in a carbon dioxide rich environment prior to crushing.
Conventional alcoholic fermentation involves crushing the grapes to free the juice and pulp from the skin with yeast serving to convert sugar into ethanol.
Carbonic maceration ferments most of the juice while it is still inside the grape, although grapes at the bottom of the vessel are crushed by gravity and undergo conventional fermentation.
The resulting wine is fruity with very low tannins.
It is ready to drink quickly but lacks the structure for long-term aging.
In the most extreme case, such as with Beaujolais nouveau, the period between picking and bottling can be less than six weeks.
During carbonic maceration, an anaerobic environment is created by pumping carbon dioxide into a sealed container filled with whole grape clusters.
The carbon dioxide gas permeates through the grape skins and begins to stimulate fermentation at an intracellular level.
The entire process takes place inside each single, intact berry.
Ethanol is produced as a by-product of this process but studies have shown that other unique chemical reactions take place that have a distinctive effect on the wine.
The process of carbonic maceration occurs naturally in a partial state without deliberate intervention and has occurred in some form throughout history.
If grapes are stored in a closed container, the force of gravity will crush the grapes on the bottom, releasing grape juice.
Ambient yeasts present on the grape skins will interact with the sugars in the grape juice to start conventional ethanol fermentation.
Carbon dioxide is released as a by product and, being denser than oxygen, will push out the oxygen through any permeable surface (such as slight gaps between wood planks) creating a mostly anaerobic environment for the uncrushed grape clusters to go through carbonic maceration.
Some of the earliest documented studies on the process were conducted by the French scientist Louis Pasteur who noted in 1872 that grapes contained in an oxygen rich environment prior to crushing and fermentation produced wines of different flavors than grapes produced in a carbon dioxide rich environment. This was because the fermentation process had already started within the individual grape clusters prior to the introduction of yeasts during conventional fermentation.
Having completed a study of the mechanics of sniffing, let’s turn to the vocabulary of aroma and bouquet. Let’s look at specific terms, both to describe our sensations and to expand our awareness of the scope of aromas that may be found in fine wines.
To pass the primitive "I like it" stage, we can try to examine whether an aroma is fruit or flower.
As we progress we can get more refined and perhaps, having determined its fruit, we can ask if it is berry or citrus; and, later, if citrus, if it is grapefruit or orange. We won’t expect to go from zero to pinpoint accuracy in one shot.
Familiarity with the categorization of aromas should reassure us that wine vocabulary is based on scientific categorization and not poetic license. Each term used to describe a wine has a precise meaning. When a wine is said to have an aroma of peaches, it is because the same chemical compound found in peaches that gives the fruit its distinctive aroma is also present in the wine and a chemical analysis of the peaches and the wine would prove this.
This scientific examination of the wine using our noses as tools is quite different from a lyrical description of the wine. Subjective, poetic, or vague expressions are fine as long as we understand the difference.
Having said all this, our accuracy in detecting aromas in the wine is not nearly as important as our concentration on the smelling; the attempt to match up our perception of the aromas of the wine with the specific aromas of spices or fruit.
AROMA AND BOUQUET DEFINED
An aroma is the isolated agreeable odor found in a glass of wine which is the olfactory indicator of a single spice, flower, mineral or other substance.
Aromas provide us with the irreducible basic units into which we can sort out the many odorous sensations we may experience in the glass.
The bouquet is the product of the combination and interaction of the wine's aromas.
The sensation of an aroma is fixed, with only its intensity varying; the sensations of a bouquet are constantly changing according to how some aromas fade and others emerge and according to how the changing proportions of volatizing aromas interact with each other.
By this definition, a discussion of aroma and bouquet excludes consideration of the vast bulk of the world's wine, of the category popularly known as American Jug, vins ordinaires, or table wine.
These production wines do not develop specific, individual aromas and therefore cannot have a bouquet as we are now defining it. The odors of these wines are adequately described by words like ordinary, simple, sound, neutral, common or honest.
CATALOGUE OF AROMAS
What follows is a listing of the aromas most commonly found in wine. All of the major categories are included as well as most of the individual aromas in each category.
The family classifications are:
Fruity Woody Biological
Floral Nutty Aging
Spicy Earthy Animal
Herbal Vegetable Mineral
Since aromas are olfactory indicators of chemical compounds found in the natural sources listed in this catalogue, we'll put specific chemical sources in parentheses following the listing of some of the aromas, to remind ourselves of the concrete physical reality of their presence.
This delicious category is familiar to all of us and is so important in wine tasting that it can readily be sub-divided into seven smaller categories: citrus, berry, tropical, carbonic maceration, muscat, other fruit, and, finally, dried fruit.
The most common flavors are grapefruit, lemon and orange. In the fruit themselves, extracts of these flavors are found in the zest of the peel. These are fresh, subtle flavors found in white wines of good acidity.
Berry flavors are found in many red wines. Raspberry is a widespread agreeable characteristic of young red wines such as Beaujolais and Zinfandel. Although some raspberry is found in red Burgundy, black currant reigns here as it does in all wine made from the Pinot Noir grape. Blackberry is often found in Cabernet Sauvignon wines such as red Bordeaux. And strawberry (hexadecilic aldehyde) is a prized aroma of mellow reds at their peak.
Melon and pineapple (ethyl butyane; isoalmyl butyane) are found in certain quality wines of high acidity. Banana (isoamyl acetate) is found in red wines, often those that have been produced by carbonic maceration and in white wines. often those of the Chardonnay grape, particularly those that have undergone a malolactic fermentation.
This fermenting process produces a unique fruitiness that is a bouquet at birth, needing no time for individual aromas to marry. Not having a specific fruit source, only examination of such a wine in the company an experienced taster can bring us the experience necessary to recognize this bouquet. We'll discuss this type of wine-making in detail later in the book.
Linalol is found in the Muscat grape as well as in many other natural sources such as honeysuckle, lily, lilac, rose, orange, thyme, and jasmine. The muscat aroma is often pungent, i.e. sharply affecting the organs of taste or smell with a penetrating power. First experiences with Muscat's pungency are not always enthusiastic.
Other Fresh Fruit:
Cherry: This crisp, delicious aroma of mature reds is so prevalent in Chambertin that one of its properties is named after the wild cherry, "Griottes-Chambertin".
Plum: A redolent aroma of mature reds, suggesting a fuller-bodied wine than a cherry aroma.
Apple: (malic acid) A characteristic aroma of white wines that have not been put through a malolactic fermentation and that are intended to be drunk young. Advanced tasters can detect aromas more specific than simply "apples":
*Golden Delicious Apples: An apple with roundness and sweetness on the nose.
*Granny Smith Apples: An apple with an extremely fresh acidic nose.
Peach: An aroma found in ripe whites, peach combines lusciousness and acidity typically displayed by German Moselles.
Pear: This delicious aroma is found in both reds and whites.
Apricot: An aroma in both red and white wines of great class; apricot is frequently found in wines made from Viognier grapes, used widely in the Rhone Valley.
Quince: A strange and rich aroma, quince, like apricot, is found in red and white wines of great class; frequently in wines of the Loire Valley like a luscious Vouvray when made from specially selected grapes.
Grapey: This is the aroma of grapes.
Green: This is the pleasing smell of unripe grapes.
Such aromas as raisin, prune, fig, and strawberry jam are found in wines which, almost without exception, the product of some extreme vinification method or climactic condition.
This second of the nine major smell categories is highly appreciated by tasters; you may smell a bouquet or the individual scent of a particular flower. Here is a brief run-through of some of the floral scents commonly found in wines:
Acacia: (robina pseudacacia) Many Rhone wines benefit from the profuse growth of Acacias on the banks of the Rhone. The flowers and pollen permeate the wines and infuse the wines their aroma.
Sweet-Briar: The scent of the wild rose, along with those of rose, lily, and orange blossom, forms the floral bouquet of Alsatian Gewürztraminer. Sweet-briar's redolent aroma is also found in many reds such as Barolo and Burgundy.
Geranium: This is the strong odor of geraniol and citronnel found frequently in strongly favored wines such as Muscats or Gewürztraminer. Sometimes the addition of sorbic acid to a wine will produce geranium as the acid deteriorates.
Bramble: This word is used to describe the typical aroma of Zinfandel.
Hawthorn: (anisaldehyde) This delicate fragrance is frequently found in red Rhones and red Burgundies.
Rose: (phenylethyl alcohol) This aroma, is found in great red wines such as Paulliac and Margaux.
Violet: (ionone alpha and beta) A delicately herbaceous aroma found in many wines of almost every wine region.
Honey: This sweet concentrated aroma is reserved for only the richest, finest mature wines, both white and red, Sauternes, Barsac, Quarts De Chaume, Montrachet, Meursault, and Corton head the list of great whites sometimes boasting of this aroma.
A spice is one of a class of pungent substances of vegetal origin used as seasonings. When found in wine, any spice adds vibrancy and complexity welcomed by every taster.
Clove: (eugenol) This spice is derived from the flower buds of the clove tree.
Cinnamon: (eugenol) This is derived from the inner bark of trees of the genus "cinnamon" of the East Indies.
Cinnamon and clove are often characteristic of the same wines, sometimes found together and sometimes separately. Some red wines, from Rhone for example, might acquire these smells through prolonged aging.
Other spices, such as pepper, ginger, and nutmeg also appear in wine, perhaps derived from the soil, or the grape, or another factor.
Mint: This herb frequently contributes to the freshness of white wines and often adds a vivacious minty quality to aged reds. One is frequently able to distinguish more specific mint aromas such as peppermint or spearmint.
Anise: (estregel; finene) This relative of caraway and fennel is a fairly common aroma, sometimes quite pronounced, found in Maconnais whites, red Graves and many others.
Licorice: This is extracted from the sweet root of certain plants in Europe and Asia. Wine likes Gevry-Chambertin and Brunello Di Montalcino and grape types such as California's Petite Syrah are frequent beneficiaries of this aroma.
Beetroot: This dank, earthy aroma is typical of the Pinot Noir grape.
Smoky: This aroma, reminiscent of gun flint, is characteristic of the Sauvignon Blanc grape (Blanc Fume).
Wine emit thyme, chicory, bay leaf, rosemary, and many other herbal aromas, frequently picking these up from planting of these herbs that surround and, in some instances, penetrate the vineyards.
While minerals are of chemical composition and might be put under a chemical heading, the characteristics of mineral are so widely recognized that it is a useful independent category for wine tasters. Some of the mineral aromas is wines are:
Iodine: This is found in some wines grown near the sea and is typical of Chateauneuf Du Pape.
Flint: (or gunpowder) This refers to a pungent smokiness typical of wines made from the Fume Blanc grape.
Gout De Terroir: A peculiar flavor imparted by certain soils. This is not an odor of the soil itself.
Aromas of wood are found frequently in wine, often imparted by casks used in aging.
Wood: Healthy, good quality wooden casks give both red and white wines a unique wood aroma. This aroma is more pronounced when the wine is just out of the cask, and it lessens with time in the bottle.
A wood aroma is always a sign that the producer intends to make a wine that aspires to improve with age and shouldn't be drunk immediately. Some wine enthusiasts feel that if you can smell the wood in a mature wine, it has been overly-exposed to the wood. Frequently, the wood aroma is specifically oak.
Vanilla: In contrast to the wood aroma, the aroma of vanilla is welcomed by all enthusiasts, whatever the wine's age. This aroma is derived from one of two sources. Vanillin sometimes forms colorless crystals on the grapes, covering them with a frosty coat. In this case, vanilla might be grouped under spice. But even more frequently, vanilla is found in red and white wines that have been stored in oak barrels from which they extract ethylvanillan. This vanilla derivative, one of the main oak aromas, has a remarkable affinity with most wines, integrating quite well into the bouquet.
Stalky: This term refers to the aroma of plant stems and stalks, not actual wood, perhaps imparted to the wine from a short time in the cask, from a fermentation with the stems of the grapes in the vat, or from leaving the newly fermented wine on its skins or deposits. The aroma of green tea with its stalky connotations is often detected in young reds.
Resin: This scent is one of several (pine, retsina) which form a tree-pitch sub-grouping under the classification of wood.
Pine: The resinous smell of the pine tree is an aroma with distinction when present in minute quantities.
Retsina: Much more concentrated than pine, retsina is what is added to dry white wines in Greece and then removed when the wine is first racked.
Certain wines have a distinctly nutty aroma. Some have quite specific nut aromas like walnuts in Madeira, Chateau Chalon, Rhengau Johannesburg Riesling and sherries, and cobnuts in fine, tawny ports. The three most common of the nut aromas are:
Bitter Almond: Often likened to the aroma of fruit kernels, this much appreciated odor is the proud hallmark of certain fine Italian reds as well as quality fine sherries. Benzaldehyde is the olfactory indicator.
Toasted Almond: Found in white wines, this fruit kernel aroma with the tiniest trace of sulphur graces many whites, from Soave to fine French white Burgundies.
Hazelnut: This fat aroma shares a common basic chemical component with the aromas of toasted almond and butter, i.e. diacetyl. Hazelnut is found in quality reds and whites as diverse as Amontillado sherry and Meursault.
This is a broad category of smells that includes the aromas of humus, compost, mustiness, dustiness.
Fungus: The smells of mushroom or the more elegant truffle are both associated with maturity.
Mushroom: This very pleasant aroma is found in Chablis and many old wines, sometimes accompanied by odors of humus.
Truffle: Frequently associated with soil of heavy iron content, truffle perfumes some of the greatest red wines, including Medocs and Saint-Emilion.
This category ranges from the smell of dry mown hay to freshly cut grass and bell peppers.
Fern: (filmaron) This discreet, distinguished aroma, related to lavender, is a hallmark of Puligny Montrachet and other great wines.
Mown Hay: This pleasing aroma, related to fern and lavender, is found in red wines beginning to show signs of aging. Mown hay indicates that the wine does not have a long life in front of it.
Bell Pepper: This is the characteristic crisp aroma of Cabernet Sauvignon wines, especially from California. Green olive is another vegetal aroma typical of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Grassy: (herbaceous) This is the desirable freshly-cut-grass aroma of California Sauvignon Blanc.
Eucalyptus: Wines whose vineyards are planted near eucalyptus trees pick up their mentholated aromas.
Foxy: This category is the most important aroma of the grapes of the Labrusca family grown in the Eastern United States. Foxy, an old word for the wild, untamed quality of this aroma, is an aroma scorned by many Europeans.
This is a category of luscious aromas having the odor of burnt organic matter. They can be grouped into two major categories.
Caramelized: (furfural) This is the aroma of sugar being cooked into a brown liquid. Frequently found in old red wines which are close to deterioration, the aroma is often accompanied by brownish tinges in the wine. A variety of words are used to describe this aroma, depending on the intensity and age of the wine: sugared, brown sugar, butterscotch, creme-brulee, toffee, and molasses.
Roasted: This is the rich aroma of browning or drying by exposure to heat. Tobacco, coffee, and cocoa (or chocolate) aromas are each found in great old red wines as they age, often in company with brown tones in the glass.
This group of aromas is derived from the presence or work of micro-organisms.
Flor: The unique aroma of fine sherry and some Jura wines deriving from a fill of yeast cells which are encouraged to form naturally on the wines while in cask.
Yeasty: This fresh odor derives from the yeasts which precipitate the wine's fermentation and impart their distinctive aroma to the wine.
Botrytis: An aroma of great finesse produced by tiny molds called botrytis cinerea which forms in some climates on the grape skin.
Milky: The smell of lactic acid found in wines, especially reds that have undergone malolactic fermentation.
Buttery: (diacetyl) Reminiscent of butter this aroma is found in some reds, but more often in whites that have undergone malolactic fermentation and have been aged in wood. This opulent, fat aroma diminishes as the wine matures and other aromas develop.
It's a little incongruous to think of the gamey smells of animals in conjunction with wines of breed. But if manufacturers of perfume can use civet and musk smells in their product we can accept animal-derived aromas at least intellectually, if not emotionally, as part of a wine's bouquet.
Civet: In concentrated form, the smell of this musk secretion is shocking. But the infinitesimal presence of its chemical base, civetone, in certain fine old reds, including Burgundy, adds an agreeable quality to its bouquet.
Musk: In greatly diluted form, even the odorous constituent of musk-deer secretion, muscone, can be pleasant. Do not confuse with the muscat aroma discussed under floral.
Lees: The aroma that wine picks up by being left on its lees. If left for too long a time, the wine will reassimilate the flavor of the lees and develop an almost scatological aroma.
Leather, rawhide, horse, and saddle aromas all found in wines, especially Australian wines made from the Shiraz grape. Perhaps the iron content of some wines lead tasters to find livers, fresh blood, or beef in others. Don't be shocked by these aromas.
This ends our sniff at specific aromas.